Student Spotlight Award Recipient - Joanna Kaye

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Joanna Kaye

Congratulations to Joanna Kaye on being selected as one of the Student Spotlight Award recipients!

The purpose of this award is to highlight students who are doing important work in the CBS community whether for research, clinical, and/or volunteer-humanitarian efforts.

This is a way to highlight their achievements, let the ACBS community know important work students are doing, and possibly provide a platform for mentoring/collaboration/professional development/conversations around highlighted areas.

Learn more about Joanna:

Background of CBS Research/Clinical/Volunteering efforts/achievements:
My interest in ACT has strongly influenced my research, clinical work, teaching, and volunteering positions. In the realm of research, I became interested in ACT research as the graduate student research coordinator of an RCT in my lab comparing ACT and traditional CBT for social anxiety disorder. For my Master’s thesis, I developed online values clarification and goal-setting programs to determine the extent to which values clarification adds incremental benefit to goal-setting strategies in helping undergraduate freshmen adjust to college. For my doctoral dissertation, I paired my interest in ACT with my interest in exposure therapy. My study aims to reduce the impact of therapists’ discomfort on their clinical decision-making during exposure therapy by incorporating ACT techniques into their training. My hope with this project is that therapists will use ACT techniques to practice willingness to experience discomfort during exposure therapy in the service of their values related to their clinical work, and that ACT strategies will help therapists make more effective clinical decisions.

In my clinical work, I have used ACT with dozens of clients with a range of symptom presentations. I am currently an advanced peer supervisor in our graduate training clinic, where I help supervise graduate students in their delivery of ACT in our mood and anxiety clinic.

Additionally, I am teaching a Master’s-level CBT course that has included a focus on ACT. Finally, I am the Student Representative on the Pennsylvania ACBS Board, where I help to organize ACT-focused training events.

Three sentence summary of CBS research/clinical/volunteering efforts/achievements: 
My interest in ACT has strongly influenced my research, clinical work, teaching, and volunteering positions. I have conducted research on the utility of ACT for a variety of aims in several populations, including individuals with anxiety disorders, college students, and therapists. I am involved in disseminating and implementing ACT through my clinical work, teaching, peer supervision, and volunteer work.

Links to any relevant publications you have participated in:
I am an author on several ACT-related manuscripts that are in various stages of the review process but have not yet been published.

I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, and received my BA in Psychology and Spanish from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. I am currently a fourth-year graduate student at Drexel University working with James Herbert and Evan Forman. My clinical and research interests center on acceptance-based treatments and exposure therapy for anxiety disorders. I am drawn to the ACT emphasis on values in all of my clinical work, regardless of whether I am utilizing a full ACT framework. I am interested in the utility of an ACT framework to increase patients’ willingness to engage in difficult behavior change and sustain that behavior change after ending treatment, particularly in the context of exposure therapy for anxiety disorders.

My interest in ACT has also been influenced by my father. He is an anesthesiologist by profession, but has had a passion for mindfulness meditation for many years. I attended meditation meet-up groups with him in high school and college. My interest in ACT was a natural evolution from my experiences with mindfulness meditation in my adolescence. My father is now beginning a second career of sorts by training to become a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher, and we often joke about opening a center for mindfulness- and acceptance-based treatments after I finish my training. In my spare time, I love traveling, going to dog parks, trying new restaurants, doing yoga, going on long walks in cute neighborhoods, and hosting dinner parties with friends.

Future goals:
I aim to research how acceptance-based techniques can be used to improve therapists' decision-making.